How and why does Faulkner's story, "A Rose for Emily", depart from straightforward chronological storytelling?

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Faulkner's story, "A Rose for Emily", begins at the end, introducing the reader to Miss Emily with the idea of her funeral. Then the narrative jumps back in time to tell Miss Emily's story from girlhood onward. The depiction of Miss Emily's life, even here, is not related in strict, continuous chronology, but is instead presented as a series of separate episodes. 

The story is told by the narrator through a series of non-sequential flashbacks.

This narrative strategy is a clear break from chronology, situating the end of the story before the beginning. For this reason, the bulk of the story can be seen as a flashback.

Presenting a story's end as the first plot element can help to create suspense by giving the reader a specific idea to anticipate. This can be described as an example of foreshadowing.


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